Sunday, April 13, 2014


Every Sunday afternoon I take the city bus and go grocery shopping. This week was no different. I boarded route 5 downtown that stops right in front of Publix. The plan was- as usual- to get on that bus again as it comes by every hour, and take it all the way around as it drops me at my starting point with a heavy bag hanging from the back of my chair. The one thing that was different was the driver. Every week a helpful, funny and kind man assists me on and off the bus and I have to say I look forward to catching up with him on Sundays. My dose of humor for the day. This time he wasn't there. And the problems started.  The lady who drove it this time- to say the least wasn't very happy to have me on board. I get that to an extent. A wheelchair passenger requires transit operators to get out of their seat, lift a folding bench that has the straps and belts underneath it and secure me there. Getting the lift or ramp out also takes time, often requires to try getting them to work multiple times and gets the driver behind the schedule. It's hard to watch them struggle and not to feel like I brought it on them. But then, I'm  a patron. I ride this bus and just like everybody else on it I just want to get to wherever it is that I'm going.  This time, the ramp refused to fold back, the system wasn't responding to her pressing the button. Luckily for most drivers, with this model- if a problem like this happens, they can push it back manually  from the outside and it's not that heavy to lift. Someone else did it for her and we were on our way. "I'm not picking up anymore wheelchairs today"- she said "No matter what happens I'm not opening that ramp again". That wouldn't work for me. There was only one bus going around once an hour. I told her that I still needed to go home after shopping and no matter long I waited it would still be her and her bus going by my stop. There were no other routes I could take and her bus was the only one in service. "It's between you and RTS [transit system company]. I reminded her that if she sees me and she can't pick me up, she's supposed to call the dispatcher and they may be able to send out a van for me. She said she wouldn't call them, because she reported the problem already. At this stage things got really scary for me. I had no other way to get home. I forgot my cell so I couldn't call a friend, a taxi or the RTS dispatcher. As I was leaving, I heard her arguing with her company on the radio to get her a new bus. It seemed like they were getting ready to bring one to her. She asked me when I was planning to get back. I decided to give her two hours to make the switch, although I'm usually waiting at the stop again by the time the bus comes back. Two hours later she came back. I heard her argue on the radio with the dispatcher again. The voice said that there was only one supervisor and that he can't get to her from the other side of town. She said that she didn't want to injure her wrist but she was told to work with the ramp anyway. I have to say- the whole experience ruined my day. I usually look forward my shopping on Sunday, here I spent two hours wondering what was going to happen next and kicking myself for not having my phone. And as she was strapping me in and commenting on her work conditions I realized that her problem wasn't really with me. It didn't make me feel much better, but her issue was with her employer and how mistreated and disregarded she felt. As I was getting of the bus in front of my house I said I was sorry she was was having a hard time and wished her a great weekend although she made my day quite stressful.

1 comment:

  1. Imho, unfortunately, this problem didn't merge yesterday and won't vanish tomorrow and it's based on gender differences which still exist despite the intensive struggle against them. Instead of trying to merge two human being opposites into one whole unisex Cyclop-minded creature, every and each managerial and political entity must realize and regulate the basic gender differences such as in physical characteristics between a man and a woman. And this is not only in field of public services but also healthcare and education including but not limited to Conductive Education.